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Friday, July 23, 1999 Published at 14:16 GMT 15:16 UK

World: Africa

Leakey gets top Kenyan post

Dr Leakey: A constant critic of President Moi

President Moi has appointed an old adversary, the wild life conservationist Richard Leakey as head of the Kenyan civil service.

Louise Tonbridge: Mr Leakey says he will attempt to tackle corruption
Observers say the surprise move appears to be in response to criticism from the International Monetary Fund that Kenya has not made enough progress in curbing corruption and keeping government spending under control.

A prominent banker, Martin Odour Otieno, has been appointed head of the Finance Ministry.

Dr Leakey, who lost both legs in a flying accident, is currently director of the wildlife service.

Thorn in side

President Moi has in the past expressed dislike for Dr Leakey and described the former opposition party leader and MP as a colonialist.

[ image: Moi once called Leakey ''arrogant and racist'']
Moi once called Leakey ''arrogant and racist''
He once described Dr Leakey as "arrogant and racist" and not a Kenyan.

Dr Leakey has been a thorn in the side of the government of President Daniel arap Moi and has campaigned against corruption in Kenyan politics.

He is a third-generation Kenyan of British origin whose grandfather came to Kenya as a missionary in 1902.

His parents, Louis B and Mary Leakey, did pioneering research that located the origins of humanity in East Africa.

He is also a man with influential international contacts and a reputation for efficiency.

Last year President Moi reappointed Dr Leakey for his second term as director of the prestigious Kenyan Wildlife Service as that organisation hit funding problems and fraud allegations.

Kenya now is in an acute economic mess, while donors are withdrawing support because of consistent failures by the government to reform and fight corruption effectively.

The Bank of Kenya forecast that depressed economic conditions will continue into next year and the currency has lost a third of its value against the dollar.

BBC Correspondent Martin Dawes says the appointment of Dr Leakey and a former banker to a post in the Ministry of Finance, probably reflects a desire to present a new image to the donor community.

The IMF suspended a $220m enhanced structural adjustment facility two years ago.

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